The Last of the Imperious Rich: Lehman Brothers, 1844-2008
The inspiration for the hit play The Lehman Trilogy
On September 11, 1844, Henry Lehman arrived in New York City on a boat from Germany. Soon after, he moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where he and his brother Emanuel established a modest cotton brokering firm that would come to be called Lehman Brothers.
On September 15, 2008, Dick Fuld, the last CEO of Lehman Brothers, filed for corporate bankruptcy amid one of the worst financial crises in American history. After 164 years, one of the largest and most respected investment banks in the world was gone, leaving everyone wondering, "How could this have happened?"
Peter Chapman, an editor and writer for The Financial Times, answers this question by exploring the complete history of Lehman Brothers between those two historic Septembers. He takes us back to its early days as a cotton broker in Alabama, and then to its glory days as one of the leading corporate financiers in America. He also provides an intimate portrait of the people who ran Lehman over the decades-from Henry Lehman, the founder, to Bobbie Lehman, who led the company into the world of radio, motion pictures, and air travel in first part of the 20th century, to Dick Fuld, who allowed it to morph into a dealer of shoddy securities.
Throughout his account of this imperiously rich firm, Chapman examines the impact Lehman Brothers had not only on American finance but also on American life. As a major backer of companies like Pan American Airlines, Macy's, and RKO, Lehman helped lead the country into major new industries and helped support some of its most intrepid entrepreneurs.
He then shows how, starting in the 1980s, Lehman's increased focus on short-term gain investments led the firm down the dangerous path that would eventually lead to its demise.
In the end, the story of Lehman Brothers is not only the story of a truly important American company but a cautionary tale of what happens when leaders lose sight of their core mission in their quest for something too good to be true.
Praise for The Last of the Imperious Rich:
"Chapman's seminal text" - Stefano Massini, playwright The Lehman Trilogy
"Thought provoking and illuminating" - The New York Times
"Chapman has succeeded in holding up a mirror to America's past - and what its future might hold" - Bloomberg
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THE LAST OF THE IMPERIOUS RICH: Lehman Brothers, 1844-2008User Review - Kirkus
A meandering chronicle of a remarkable immigrant family that built a powerful Wall Street investment firm, then lost it.Financial Times contributor Chapman finds the Lehman enterprise fascinating. The ... Read full review
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Alabama American Express bank’s bankers Bear Stearns became Bobbie Lehman Bobbie’s bonds bucket shops capital clients Cohn collapse Communist company’s cotton crash credit default swap crisis Cuba deal Democrats Dick Fuld dollars early economy Eisenhower election Emanuel Enron Europe firm firm’s Flade Fuld’s German Glucksman Goldman Sachs governor Greenspan Henry Lehman Henry’s Herbert Lehman industry investment banks investors J. P. Morgan Jewish John Joseph later Lehman Brothers Lehman family Lehman financing Lehman/Lehman Brothers Collection Libo loan London Macy’s Mayer Lehman McCarthy Merrill Lynch million Montgomery mortgage move National Nevins organized partner Peterson Philip Lehman political president profit radio railroad Republican Rimpar risk Robert Lehman Robert Lehman/Lehman Brothers Roosevelt sell Senate shares Shearson Lehman South Stephen Birmingham stock market subprime thousand took trading United Fruit Company Wall Street wanted William Street wrote York York’s